Grand Lodge No. 24, the church-turned-recording-studio recently purchased by Emery Street Records, officially opened and the owners threw one hell of a fucking party. On Friday, November 14, producers, musicians, artists, members of the press, publicists and other members of the local music industry — as well as various randoms there for a good time — were invited to Farnham, Quebec to check out this latest acquisition by the independent, DIY Montreal label.

Arcade Fire, the former owners of the century-old church, caused a buzz in the international music community when they announced via Twitter that the building was for sale in January of 2013, the main reason being that the roof was in an advanced state of disrepair. Emery Street Records president, general manager and executive producer Francis Lemay saw an opportunity to take an already legendary studio and expand its reputation as well as bolster the mystique surrounding Emery Street Records and solidify their position as important promoters of the Quebec music industry. He had the old carpet roof replaced by a metal one as well as repairs done to the masonry, doors and windows. The building — which houses the studio where the majority of Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible and parts of The Suburbs were recorded — was ready to take bookings from the public in May 2014.

Emery Street finally got around to marking the opening of Grand Lodge No. 24 by throwing a wild party for friends and other members of the local music community, a grand and complex undertaking at the level and with the success that they managed to pull off. It had absolutely everything a good party should have and some spectacular extras as well.

Each and every room in the place, including the common areas like the concert hall and basement living area, has been given a major makeover by some very prominent Montreal artists including Cedric Taillon (curator), Chris Dyer, street art collective WZRDSGNG, Jean-Michel Cholette, Guy Boutin and Clockshovel. The party also featured live painting by Zilon, Labrona and more.

Other live entertainment included some really top-notch burlesque performances by Lavender May (curator), Ruby Rhapsody, Madria, La Reine Rouge and La Reine Noire and the weird and wonderful Lady JosephineSeb Black and Eddie Paul both played sets interspersed between the burlesque performances. (Eddie Paul recently released a new video for his single “Shut Up and Dance”, check it out here if you haven’t already!)

They had full bars set up staffed with bartenders that looked the part, serving up Farnham Ale & Lager. Outside, there was a bonfire in a barrel and free mulled wine courtesy of Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. Das Food Truck was set up on the premises to satisfy hungry party-goers.

To top it all off, the new owners had purchased a school bus to ferry guests between downtown Montreal and Farnham, ensuring that no one would have to drive back to the city intoxicated. Hell, they even provided coat check at no cost. That’s how you get shit done.

All in all, considering everything that could go wrong when you’re a homegrown DIY label throwing a party of this magnitude, everything came together spectacularly with nary a bump in the road. Of course, a fire truck showed up at some point, presumably called upon by the presence of smoke from the barrel fire and the incessant ringing of the fire alarm when someone decided to started playing with the dry ice machine in the basement (I’m looking at you, Zacchia).

One last detail that was not overlooked: the hiring of some event photographers to capture it all, check out their work below!

Photos by Alex Sergerie, Edgar Delacroix, Michel Thibault and Jonathan B.P. courtesy of Emery Street Records. 

opening of Grand Lodge No. 24opening of Grand Lodge No. 24

I almost fell for it. When I sat down in Cafe Cleopatre before the start of the Zoofest version of Bad Ladies and the Detective there was a flier on the table with instructions to immediately log onto KENSAKU and tweet my location. Had this Montreal-based burlesque troupe found a new social media site? Not quite.

The show started and I found out that KENSAKU was actually a social spying tool that was part of the futuristic Orwellian dystopia that the show was set in. Yes, this burlesque show had a futuristic setting and a plot.

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Cherry Typhoon as Detective Stormy Typhoon

Giving a storyline to sexy dance numbers is always a nice touch. In this story, the only freedom from the tyranny of the state is burlesque. In particular, it comes from Lady Josephine and her Bad Ladies underground cabaret.

The ladies are being chased by Detective Stormy Typhoon (Cherry Typhoon) while sending manifesto-type event invites to the investigator’s sister Secretary Shimi Typhoon (Yanomi Shoshinz). I like the use of social media in a show set in a surveillance state, because Orwell’s future may be a little closer than we thought but I also loved the hilarious banter between the detective and secretary which also served as emcee introductions for the dancers.

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Libertine Rose

Cleverness aside, this is a burlesque show, so it’s all about the burlesque numbers. And we get some good ones.

Troupe founder Lady Josephine graced the crowd with a very classy yet downright sexy couple of numbers. Her highly theatrical facial expressions are priceless and her look is pure classic burlesque if I ever saw it.

By contrast, Libertine Rose is a much more modern rock n’ roll type of sexy. Clad in leather, she snuck onto the stage like a thief in the night and stole all of our hearts with her fun and raucous striptease.

As for Billy L’Amour, well, there’s plenty to love about this performance. I won’t give too much away, but let’s just say the upstairs of Cleo is known for more than burlesque and fetish.

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Lady Josephine

It’s rare that I get to name all the performers in a burlesque show, but Bad Lady had a cast of only five. I didn’t see the earlier version of this show at Theatre St-Catherine, but I hear the show was cut down to accommodate a tighter schedule at Zoofest.

After seeing this stripped down version, pun very much and very happily intended, I find myself wanting more. And isn’t that what burlesque is supposed to do?

* Photos by Chris Zacchia

* Bad Ladies and the Detective runs tonight and Friday at 10:30pm, Café Cléopâtre, 1230 St Laurent. For tickets, please visit

* For the rest of the Zoofest schedule, please visit